Back in the old days, any organization wanting to crunch some of its data would have to invest in big, monolithic data warehousing systems, complex analysis applications with arcane languages and requirements, and highly-skilled personnel to wrangle all of that stuff. At the end of it all, organizations with very clear ideas about what they were looking for could spend lots of money and a fair amount of time and end up with a result. But for organizations that weren’t quite sure what their question should be, had serious time or resource constraints, or didn’t fundamentally want to wrangle IT, it was all a bit hard.

The advent of the cloud, however, has changed that entirely. The ability to spin up, scale and turn off resources on demand, the inherent connectivity of many modern data sources and the increasing use of APIs mean plugging data together and running some analysis over it is far easier than ever before. And since analysis is easier than in the past, more and more companies are looking to use analytics. Whereas in the past it was a domain that only the large enterprises could enjoy, it is now more generally accessible.

Which is the trend that Looker wants to both encourage and profit from? Looker is a data platform that offers analytics and insights at a departmental-level. By democratizing analysis, and making it usable by business people without IT intervention, Looker is helping drive analytics into more and more organizations.

But even that level of democratization wasn’t enough

Democratization isn’t something that happens once and then stops (or at least it shouldn’t be.” Rather, products should continuously be made more accessible so that they can, over time, continue to be used by more and more people. This is the rationale behind Looker’s latest offering, Looker 5, being introduced at the company’s conference this week. Looker 5 introduces a few new approaches towards analysis and visualization that should help put the product into even more people’s hands.

Looker’s existing, customers tend to have tech-enabled developers that leverage the platform to build tools and applications, but the reality is that not every organization has deep development resources. Looker 5 aims to smooth that path so that departments or individuals without a development resource can benefit from analytics and build exactly what they need. Specific developments include:

  • Action Hub – Action Hub is aimed to make it easier to take action on insights directly from within Looker. Integrations and actions in the Hub allow users to make work more efficient. From within the same tool that gives them data access and analysis, they can now take external actions – for example, to change the status on support tickets in Zendesk, send data and dashboards to Google Drive or Box, or pause an underperforming Adwords campaign
  • New Looker Blocks – Looker is introducing new “Blocks” in order to further speed up working with the platform. Viz Blocks provide a library of custom visualizations, Data Tools create curated experiences for end-users (e.g. a Google Analytics-like Web Analytics tool), and Data Blocks let customers join in pre-modeled external datasets like weather data or demographic data to enrich their own data
  • Applications – Applications by Looker are new solutions for users to dig into vertical-specific data. Built on the Looker Data Platform, they leverage Looker’s capabilities to access, analyze and take action with data. The first three offerings being announced will be Marketing Analytics by Looker, IT Operations Analytics by Looker and Event Analytics by Looker. These are department-specific solutions that tailor the generic Looker product to specific requirements

MyPOV

What’s not to like? Analytics and visualization are good, and they’re even more so when more and more people within an organization can use them. By building out these self-service features and options, Looker is obviously benefitting its own business but also, by extension, helping to benefit all those businesses, departments and individuals who will now be able to get their hands on these tools.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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